Image: Tel Aviv University | A team of specialists led by Prof. Tamir Tuller from Tel Aviv University with foodtech entrepreneur Dr. Eyal Iffergan, Tuller have established the startup company Imagindairy, which attempts to produce cow’s milk from yeast.
In recent years, increased awareness of not only the cruelty to the cows, but the damage caused by the dairy industry to the environment and human health, and the ethical dilemmas of animal husbandry, biotechnology companies worldwide have been searching for milk substitutes. Imagindairy plans to cut out the cow and make milk from yeast. The answer is to use bioengineered yeast to not only eliminate the cow, but also as a way to improve upon conventional milk by eliminating cholesterol, lactose, and somatic cells. Though not yet ready for market, the company says that the final product will have to have the colour, smell, and taste of cow-based milk.
Imagindairy’s milk and cheese products will actually be much healthier than milk that comes from animals, since it will not contain cholesterol, lactose, or somatic cells.
“Our startup also includes food engineers and food experts from the Strauss Company,” said Tuller to an online site, News Medical. Currently, they are trying to take milk proteins from yeast and produce cheese from them. This is a long process of improvement–of productivity, taste, and, of course, of the price. This product is not a milk substitute like almond or soymilk. We plan to produce dairy products that will be identical to products that come from animals by introducing the yeast genome the genes that code for milk development in cows”
Prof Tuller continued, “Theoretically, we can reach a situation in which we can’t tell the difference between cow’s milk that comes from a cow and cow’s milk that comes from yeast. But in order for that to happen in an economical way, we must turn the yeast cells into efficient factories that produce milk proteins–not a simple challenge to solve.
This technology is about artificially recoding animal genome to implanting it in the genome of another organism (the yeast) that will serve as a ‘factory’ for producing the protein that is encoded in that gene.
If they succeed, the world will have more dairy options to look forward for, and few reasons to continue with the destructive trend of animal agriculture. There have already been attempts to produce milk from microflora, but the price of producing milk in this way was a far cry from being affordable. The initiators of the development believe that in the not-too-distant future we will be able to buy dairy from the supermarket that does not come from the Mother cow, but from the Mother yeast in the same price bracket.